Get to Know Your Border Terrier- An In Depth Guide

border terrier breeds are great family pets

The Border Terrier is a good natured dog that was originally bred for fox hunting. These alert and energetic dogs would drive the foxes out of the brush so that the hounds could chase them.

Today, the Border Terrier still has these hunting and digging instincts as well as high-energy levels. They are great companions, but they need exercise to burn off their energy. Playing is one of their favorite things to do, whether it is chasing a ball or going for long walks.

Summary of Border Terrier Breed

PersonalityVery affectionate and loyal dogs- great family pets but love to chase
SizeApprox 11-15 pounds
Life ExpectancyLife span between 12 and 15 years
Exercise RequirementsHeavy Exercise Needs- Multiple walks/runs needs
Grooming RequirementsMinor shedding. Regular daily grooming and stripping a few times a year.
Good With Children?Yes, Border Terriers love companionship and are great with kids
Health ChallengesNo major health issues
Easy To Train?Yes, this breed is easy to train and likes to please

Border Terriers are affectionate and friendly with children. They do well in large families where they receive a lot of attention or with an individual who is looking for a best friend.

Having a large yard will help to let your dog burn off all of that energy. However, they need supervision and a sturdy fence because they will dig and find a way out of the yard if they are left alone for too long.

This type of dog should not be left alone for hours on end because he will become bored, which will lead to barking and chewing. In spite of this, Border Terriers have many great characteristics. They are loyal, fearless, loving, intelligent, and determined.

However, people who don’t have enough time for these dogs may find them to be a handful. If you aren’t prepared to spend time with your dog and provide it with an outlet for its energy and intelligence, the dog will become bored and restless and find ways to entertain itself. (This usually means chewing on your favorite slippers or tearing apart a couch cushion!)

Border terriers still have the hunting and digging instincts that they were bred to have, so your dog will chase other animals including rabbits, squirrels, or unfamiliar cats.

The drive is so strong that the dog could run straight in front of a car rather than giving up pursuit. You will need to make sure that your Border Terrier is unable to get out into the street.

As long as you provide companionship and exercise for Border Terriers, you will have a happy dog. These dogs tend to get along with everyone from children to adults, including strangers. However, they do bark, making them great watchdogs.

These dogs are intelligent, and they can learn any trick you want to teach them. They are pleasers, and they will give 100% effort to anything they do. The most important thing is to make sure you are prepared to keep up with the needs of these dogs, as they require both affection and an outlet for their energy.

Pet Highlights and Facts

beautiful border terrier

Here are some highlights and facts about Border Terriers:

  • Border Terriers are high energy and have a drive to hunt prey. They will chase, attack, and kill cats and wild animals such as rabbits or squirrels. If you have small pets, you will need to make sure they are secure and safe from your dog. Do not let these dogs off of their leash in an open area where they can find animals to chase.
  • Border Terriers will do well with other dogs. If you introduce a cat when the Border Terrier is a puppy, it can get along and live with it.
  • Border Terriers are very energetic, and they will jump up on people if you do not train them not to.
  • Border Terriers like to dig. This is a natural instinct, and the only way to prevent it is to help your dog use its energy for other things such as chasing a ball.
  • Border Terriers were bred to go out with fox hunts and find the foxes and chase them out into the open. They can climb walls and fences and slip through any openings. You will need to make sure that your fence is secure if you want your dog to stay in the yard. It is very easy for these dogs to escape.
  • Border Terriers’ instincts for chasing are so strong that they will run in front of cars to pursue a squirrel or a cat. Make sure that your dog is never off of its leash out in an open area.
  • Border Terriers love companionship and should not be left alone for long periods of time. They will find a way out if you leave them in the yard, and they will find something to chew if you leave them in the house. Prevent boredom by making sure that you allow your dog to exercise as much as possible each day.
  • Border Terriers can become overweight if you do not allow them to exercise enough. They need a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous exercise each day.
  • Border Terriers need to be brushed once a week.
  • Border Terriers like to chew. You should provide them with plenty of chew toys to help prevent them from chewing on your furniture and shoes.
  • Border Terriers bark when they hear noises, which makes them good at alerting you to intruders. However, they are not good guard dogs because they are too friendly.
  • Border Terriers love people and will get along with everyone. They should not be left alone for long periods of time.
  • Border Terriers belong to the Terrier dog breed group.
  • Border Terriers grow to between 10 and 11 inches at the shoulder.
  • This breed weighs between 11 and 15 pounds.
  • Border Terriers have a life span between 12 and 15 years.

Border Terriers are Great for Family Homes

border terrier breed

The Border Terrier breeds do well in a family home or with an individual as long as you are prepared to meet their needs. They should not be left alone for long periods of time, or they will become bored. When they are bored, they will chew and bark.

Although Boston Terriers are alert and will bark at a noise, their gregarious nature makes them better suited to warn you of intruders than to serve as a guard dog.

The most important thing is that people who want to have a Border Terrier are able to give them the exercise they need and prevent them from escaping from the house or the yard.

You need a secure fence around the yard, and it needs to be tall enough that they are not able to climb it to get out and deep enough that they can’t dig under it.

Border Terriers are loveable, intelligent, and high energy, so make sure that you are prepared for it before you bring one home.

Origins and History of Border Terriers

Farmers and shepherds in the country near the border of Scotland and England developed the ancestors of Border Terriers to help pursue the hill fox, a known predator to sheep. They needed dogs that were small enough to dig into the fox’s lair, but with long enough legs to chase after them.

These dogs had so much energy that they were strong and never tired. They had a wiry, weatherproof coat that would protect them from the rain and other elements. They could climb walls and get through any opening, and they never gave up until they caught the fox.

The dog went by different Terrier breed names depending on the location where it lived, including Reedwater Terrier, Coquet Terrier, and Ullswater Terrier.

The Border Terrier was in Northumberland, which is England’s northernmost county on the border with Scotland. This breed in particular earned the reputation for being able to foxhunt and work well with the hounds. Most terriers were lone hunters, so this was unique to Border Terriers.

These Border Terriers were working dogs that protected the sheep in Northumberland, and they were not widely known until they were recognized by the Kennel Club in England in 1920.

Netherbyers Ricky was the first Border Terrier registered in the United States in 1930. They have stayed true to their origins as a gregarious and low-maintenance companion.

Breed Size

The Border Terrier has a short body and legs long enough to keep up with the horses during the hunt. They stand 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder. Males weigh between 13 and 15.5 pounds, and females weigh between 11.5 and 14 pounds. They are short and agile enough to wriggle through small openings.


The Border Terrier is less aggressive with other dogs than terriers that hunt alone. They were bred to hunt beside the hounds, and they get along with other dogs to this day. You can introduce other dogs to your Border Terrier at your home.

These dogs are easy to train and will try to please. They are determined and do not give up easily. In addition, they are affectionate and loyal, and they want to be a part of the family. They will not do well if you plan to leave them alone for long periods of time.

Border Terriers will bark when they hear noises, but they are better watchdogs than guard dogs. They have an instinct for digging, so they will dig holes in the yard.

These dogs are happy, friendly, intelligent, and energetic, and they are delightful for someone who enjoys this type of dog.

Health and Life Expectancy

border terrier

The Border Terrier is generally a healthy breed, but there are certain health conditions that can develop. A responsible breeder will screen for these conditions, but you need to be aware of them if you are going to bring this kind of dog home.

Make sure that your breeder screens for the following:

Hip Dysplasia:

This condition is normally seen in large or giant breed dogs, but it can occur in smaller breeds such as the Border Terrier. The hip is a ball and socket joint, and when dogs have this condition, the ball, or the end of the femur, doesn’t fit into the socket, the hip, properly.

They rub against each other instead of smoothly sliding, and it can lead to loss of function and arthritis.

Hip dysplasia is hereditary, and it can be made worse by certain types of exercise and being overweight. The best thing to do is to make sure that your dog eats a balanced diet and gets exercise every day.

If your dog develops arthritis, glucosamine can help to reduce inflammation. You can get it from your vet or buy treats with glucosamine or chondroitin in them.

Dogs can begin to present symptoms of hip dysplasia early on, but they may not develop it until later. The important thing is to know what to look for so that you will pick up on it at any age:

  • Decrease in activity
  • Decrease in range of motion in hind legs
  • Difficulty standing, jumping, climbing stairs, or running
  • Hind leg lameness
  • Bunny hop-like gait
  • Loss of thigh muscle mass
  • Excessive shoulder muscles to make up for hind end lack of function
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Stiffness


There are a number of reasons that your dog might have seizures, and they are not curable. However, they can be managed with medication.

You want to learn to recognize a seizure when it happens. Take note if your dog does any of the following:

  • Sudden trembling or shaking
  • Sudden urination
  • Stiffness
  • Staring
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of consciousness

Heart Condition:

Border Terriers can develop heart conditions. The most common is pulmonic stenosis, which is a birth defect where the pulmonic valve of the heart is too narrow. Screening is available for puppies once they are eight weeks old. A puppy with this condition can live a long life as long as the degree of narrowing is small. If there is a large degree of narrowing, it is likely that the dog will develop life-threatening symptoms.

The first symptom is usually a heart murmur that is detected between two and four months of age. If your dog has this condition, it may need to be treated. Your vet will determine the best way to proceed. You may need to use medication and a special diet, or your dog may need surgery.

Heart disease is a common cause of death for older Border Terriers. It is caused when the valves weaken, and this puts a strain on the heart.


When dogs have allergies, they present as dry, itchy skin. It is called “atopy.” It most commonly occurs in the feet, belly, ears, and folds of the skin. There are many ways to treat allergies.

Patellar Luxation:

With this condition, your dog’s patella (kneecap) may slip out of place. You might notice that your dog is running, skips for a few steps with his leg out to the side, and then runs normally again. If the symptoms are severe, your dog may need surgery. Otherwise, it may just need medication for arthritis treatment.


Border Terriers can get diabetes. In this case, the dog’s body is unable to metabolize glucose properly and may require insulin shots.


Cataracts can lead to blindness in Border Terriers. The lenses of the eyes may appear cloudy, but your vet will perform further tests. Many dogs do well even after losing their vision, and there are surgeries available.

Prognathism (Underbite):

With this condition, the lower jaw sticks out further than the upper jaw. This only becomes a problem if there are teeth that are causing pain or difficulty eating.

Fanconi Syndrome:

This is a disease of the kidneys where the vital blood nutrients are expelled with urine. When this occurs, Border terriers experience excessive thirst, weight loss, and weakness. The symptoms will appear between the ages of two and six.


With this condition, the body doesn’t make enough of the thyroid hormone. The symptoms might include dry skin, hair loss, weight gain, and behavior changes. This can be diagnosed with a blood test, and there is medication to treat it.


With this condition, one or both of the dog’s testicles fail to drop. This is common in small dogs. The testicles should be fully descended by the time a puppy is two months old. This can be corrected by neutering the dog and removing the testicles.

Life Expectancy:

The Border Terrier breed has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.

Border Terrier Care

border terrier puppy -

Border Terriers are gregarious and should live with the family. They should not be isolated or left alone for long periods of time.

They will enjoy playing outside in the yard, but you should not leave them out there unattended because they are escape artists.

They can dig under a fence or possibly even climb over it, and they will find their way out of any spot that they can get through.

They need a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for the dog’s stage of life, puppy, adult, or senior. Because they have a tendency to become overweight, make sure that you are feeding the recommended amount of food. You can use treats for training, but overfeeding can lead to obesity.

Border Terriers have a hard, wiry outer coat over a soft undercoat. They are a double-coated breed, and they shed seasonally.

You should brush your dog every week to keep the coat maintained. During times of the year when they shed, you can spend time each day brushing your dog, or the hair will fall out.

You should not bathe your dog too frequently because it will interfere with the outer coat’s ability to repel dirt. You need to keep the nails trimmed.

Border Terriers need to exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t do this, you will pay the price because your dog will grow bored and find things to chew.

You should never let your Border Terrier run off its leash in open spaces because their instincts will cause them to chase other animals and they may run into the street and be hit by a car.

You need to make sure that any fences extend underground at least 18 inches or you run the risk of your dog digging under the fence to escape.

This breed of dog was made to think independently, so socialization from early on is necessary. You should train your Border Terrier because they learn easily.

However, the chase instinct in this breed is so strong that even with training, it won’t be able to resist chasing another animal. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash unless you are in a securely fenced area.

Border Terriers respond well to positive reinforcement, including praise, treats, and rewards. They are sensitive and do not respond well to harsh training methods that involve discipline.

They are easy to house train as long as you provide multiple opportunities for them to go outside to go to the bathroom. You can use crate training when they are young to help with house-training and to prevent the dog from chewing while you are not home.


You should feed your Border Terrier a high-quality diet. It should eat one half to one and three eighths cups per day split into two meals.

The exact amount you feed will be determined by your dog’s activity level, his size, age, and build. More active dogs will need more food, and higher quality food will provide more nutrition for your dog.

You can either feed a raw homemade diet or a high-quality dog food. Look for ingredients such as meat, rice, and vegetables, and you should have vitamin and mineral supplements as well.

Be sure to keep your dog at a healthy weight, and if you see it becoming overweight, reduce the amount you are feeding or increase your dog’s exercise. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs, but you shouldn’t be able to see them.

Coat and Grooming

border terrier do breeds

Border Terriers come in a variety of colors, including blue, red, tan, grizzle and tan, or wheaten. They may or may not have a small white patch on the chest.

These dogs have a double coat, with a wiry, rough exterior coat that can protect them from rain and other elements and a soft, fluffy undercoat. They have loose thick skin, which helped to protect the dog from the fox biting it.

You should brush your Border Terrier once a week and you will need to do periodic stripping when it is shedding time, which occurs twice a year. Stripping is where you use a tool or your hand to remove dead hair, but you can also take your dog to the groomer to have this done.

You do not need to bathe your Border Terrier often, and doing so will reduce the outer coat’s protective nature. If you do bathe your dog, there are shampoos available specifically for this type of coat.

It is important to brush your Border Terrier’s teeth a few times a week to remove tartar and bacteria. You can clip its nails a few times each month. If you notice that they are long or hear them on the floor, you should clip them.

You should start grooming your Border Terrier when it is a puppy so that it gets used to the process. This early exposure will make it easier throughout your dog’s life.

Children and Other Pets

border terrier puppies

Border Terriers are great with children, and they will love running around and playing with them all day. If you have children younger than six, this breed might be a little rowdy.

When you introduce the Border Terrier to your home, be sure to teach your children how to be gentle and interact appropriately with dogs. Border Terriers are friendly dogs that love attention, but they might get snippy if a child is pulling the ear or tail.

Border Terriers are known for getting along with other dogs. They were bred to hunt alongside the hounds, and they are different from loner terrier breeds in this regard. If you have another dog, you shouldn’t have any trouble introducing your Border Terrier.

Border Terriers can get along with cats as well, but you need to be cautious. If the cat lives in the home before the Border Terrier, it will be easier than if you bring a cat in later after your dog is an adult. They have a strong chase instinct, and if your dog isn’t used to cats, it may chase them.

Border Terriers should not be around rabbits or other small birds and rodents. Make sure that these pets are safely caged where the dog can’t get to them. Their hunting instinct is too strong to expect them to live in harmony with these types of pets.

When you are outdoors, you need to be aware that your Border Terrier will likely run after any animals that run from it, so be sure to have your dog on a leash at all times to make sure that it doesn’t chase other animals and possibly end up running in a busy street.

Border Terriers Rescue Groups

Fortunately, there are rescue groups that are devoted to Border Terriers. Often people get a Border Terrier without any idea of the needs of this breed, and they find that they are not able to give the dog proper care. Sometimes they end up in a rescue because their owner dies.

Rescues have all kinds of Border Terriers at different stages of life, and they often look for people to foster and adopt these dogs.

There are many different organizations both locally and nationally throughout the United States, and you should have no trouble finding one if you are looking to rescue a Border Terrier that has already made it through the puppy stages.

In addition, it can be extremely rewarding to provide a home for a dog in need. You should look at all of your options before you choose the dog you will bring home.

Take a look at the following Border Terrier Rescues:

North American Border Terrier Welfare

This rescue is specifically designed to protect and help any homeless Border Terrier in North America. They take in any Border Terrier that is unwanted, impounded, neglected, or abused, and they rehabilitate them and find permanent loving homes for them.

In addition, they provide health care needed by these dogs, as well as training. They will educate people who wish to adopt or foster their dogs. They work with the Border Terrier Club of America, Regional Border Terrier Clubs, and Canadian Border Terrier Welfare to assist in rescue efforts for all dogs of this breed.

They do have an application process to ensure that placements are permanent and successful, and they are always looking for people who wish to help out by fostering rescue dogs. If you are looking for a Border Terrier, consider contacting this group. There are many Border Terriers in need of a permanent home.

Border Terrier Rescue and Adoption on Facebook

This is a Facebook page where they post Border Terriers that are in need of adoption. There are many dogs out there that have been surrendered because the family didn’t know anything about the breed before bringing one home.

Border Terriers are wonderful dogs, but if you don’t have time for another family member, they can be difficult. They need more interaction than some other breeds, and they are not loners. They will get bored if you leave them alone in the house for long periods of time, and you may come home to find your favorite shoes chewed up on your dog’s bed.

Unfortunately, people buy these dogs as puppies and they give them up when they realize that they don’t have time to train them and give them exercise and attention.

Border Terriers are easy to live with if they are loved and have their exercise. If you spend 30 minutes a day outside with them, they are happy and content.

Local Border Terrier Rescue

You can find local Border Terrier rescue groups through the North American Border Terrier Rescue website or one of the dog clubs. They will give you email addresses and phone numbers for people who rescue Border Terriers throughout the country.

It is easy to get in touch with one of these people to find out if they have a dog in need of a home.

Do you have a story to share about your Border terrier or a dog in need or re-homing or rescue, please contact us and let us know!



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